Warning not to mistake meningitis for the flu


International charity the Meningitis Research Foundation is warning the public to be aware of the symptoms of meningitis and septicaemia during the winter months and not to mistake the disease for minor illnesses like colds or flu.

The risk of meningitis and septicaemia heightens as winter approaches when people’s immune systems are weakened from fighting common illnesses making them more vulnerable to bacterial meningitis.

Bacterial meningitis and septicaemia affect around 3,400 people across the UK each year.

They are easily mistaken for milder illnesses, can kill within 24 hours and may cause serious, life-long disabilities.

As many as one in ten of those affected will die and a third of survivors will be left with after-effects, some as serious as brain damage, amputations, blindness and hearing loss.

More UK children under the age of five die from meningitis and septicaemia than any other infectious disease.

Mary Millar, Scotland Manager of Meningitis Research Foundation said: “We are entering the peak period for meningitis and septicaemia and many parents are not aware that their children are not protected against all strains.

“There is currently no vaccine available in Scotland or the UK against the most common cause of meningitis -- meningococcal B infection (MenB). A new vaccine against MenB is currently under consideration by the JCVI (the committee that advises Government on vaccines) and we are campaigning hard for it to be introduced as soon as possible. Vaccines have almost eliminated many types of meningitis and septicaemia but they still present a very real threat to our children so being aware of the symptoms and acting fast is essential to saving lives.”